The F1 season is now six grands prix old, but the conditions at Barcelona were new for Pirelli’s 18-inch tyres. The track has rough asphalt and that meant high tire wear, even at the extreme temperatures that the Italian tire manufacturer had not experienced before. “That was the toughest test for the new 18-inch tires for the time being. The expectation was that wear and tear would be high on this track and there was also a high track temperature. It has reached almost 50 degrees. The tires have coped well with the difficult conditions,” said Pirelli boss Mario Isola after the race. “Especially the soft tire was impressive. Many drivers have focused on this tire. For us it was a revelation.
Race winner Max Verstappen chose to start on the softs, then switched to medium and then returned to a used set of softs. The reigning world champion finished the Spanish GP on medium. Teammate Sergio Perez and Mercedes driver George Russell opted for a different approach. Just like Verstappen, the duo started with softs but then opted for medium twice. They finished the race on softs with the Mexican still setting the fastest lap.
Behind the trio, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas made two stops. The seven-time F1 champion decided to do this after a puncture on the first lap. His former Mercedes team-mate finished sixth in the Alfa Romeo but later commented that a three-stop would have been better. There were also different strategies in midfield, with Kevin Magnussen running alone on the hard tire after his clash with Hamilton.
“There was a variety of strategies on display, with drivers willing to go the extra mile and make three stops,” Isola continues. “That also increased the spectacle of the race, which is of course also due to the fact that you can overtake more easily with these cars. Congratulations to Red Bull. Off to a very different challenge in Monaco next weekend!”
A Pirelli rundown of all strategies at the Spanish Grand Prix
Pirelli overview Pit stops at the Spanish Grand Prix